The Frontstretch: Ten Points To Ponder ... After Michigan by Tommy Thompson -- Monday June 16, 2008

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Ten Points To Ponder ... After Michigan

Tommy Thompson · Monday June 16, 2008

 

1. Geico… Not Gecko!GEICO Insurance, sponsor of Mike Wallace and the No. 7 Germain Racing Toyota, is indicating that they will end their sponsorship of the car after next season. Wallace, who finished third in the Meijer 300 last Saturday at Kentucky, believes he will need another sponsor if he is to continue in the Nationwide Series after 2009. NASCAR has disallowed GEICO from further sponsorship in the series, agreeing to exclude other insurance companies from funding teams as part of the agreement that saw Nationwide Insurance replace Anheuser-Busch as the series’ title sponsor.

GEICO has been one of the more visible corporations supporting this series in recent years, producing a series of popular commercials featuring Wallace and a tough-talking youthful fictional second cousin (twice removed). “It’s a shame because you’re trying to take a sponsor of this particular series [GEICO] – they found a niche where they like to be – and go, ‘look, you’ve got to go away. We don’t want you around anymore,’” said Wallace. GEICO is permitted by NASCAR to participate as a sponsor in any of NASCAR’s other race divisions, however.

So, will we see Loren Wallace in a GEICO sponsored Craftsman Truck in 2010? Naw… you just know the kid will hold out for a Sprint Cup ride!

2. Would You Like Fries With That? – Joe Gibbs Racing driver phenom Joey Logano, continuing to live up to high expectations set by the sports media and NASCAR insiders — such as respected veteran Mark Martin — set a new mark for the youngest driver, at 18 years and 21 days, to ever to win a Nationwide Series race. Logano, piloting the JGR No. 20 Toyota, crossed the finish line more than two seconds ahead of runner-up Scott Wimmer in the Meijer 300 at Kentucky. “Three starts, two poles, one win. He’s OK,” said a very pleased Dave Rogers, Logano’s crew chief.

At age 18, Joey Logano won a NASCAR race sponsored by Meijer… while most people his age are looking for a summer job at Meijer.

What were you doing at 18?

3. California Still Has Its Race Date, Right? – Following the Speedway Motorsports, Inc. announcement late last month that they had agreed to purchase Kentucky Speedway, NASCAR has been adamant that the track will not be awarded a Sprint Cup race date next year and there are no assurances of one any time after that. However, SMI President Bruton Smith continues to insist that he will eventually bring a Cup date to the track, and has committed to adding another 50,000 seats to the 1.5-mile facility. Presently, Kentucky Speedway has 66,089 grandstand seats, but Saturday’s race had an announced record standing room only attendance of 73,195. The sellout was the eighth consecutive one by the Sparta, Kentucky race facility.

Over 73,000 fans for a stand-alone Nationwide race! Would 50,000 additional seats be enough for a Sprint Cup Race?

4. Paybacks Are A You Know What – Craftsman Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday and his team owner Kevin Harvick had a heated verbal confrontation following Saturday’s Cool City Customs 200 at Michigan with NASCAR’s resident “bad boy,” Kyle Busch. Hornaday, who went into the race as the CTS points leader, was spun by the 22-year-old Busch in the closing laps, ruining a solid Top 5 finish. As a result, Hornaday finished 23rd and dropped to fourth in the drivers’ championship points.

“I’m going to have to teach him a lesson, and I hope I don’t hurt him,” Hornaday said after all was said and done. “…I’ve tried to talk to him as a friend, and I don’t know what it is, he’s just out there. He’s on an ego trip, and if he’s going to wreck me every week, I guess we’re going to have to do it back to him.”

Sounds like Hornaday has come up with a plan that could possibly earn him the reputation as…NASCAR’s “most popular driver!”

5. Living Within Your Means – Forbes has published its best “guess-timates” of revenues and profits of NASCAR team owners, with Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, and Joe Gibbs Racing ranked as the three most profitable organizations. On the flip side, Red Bull Racing at -$7.0 million, Michael Waltrip Racing at -$4.3 million, and Haas CNC Racing at -$3.1 million are the teams losing the most money.

Curiously, Robby Gordon Motorsports, though 15th in revenues with $18 million as opposed to Michael Waltrip Racing’s $65 million, is actually showing an estimated income of $1.2 million with his one-car team. Is he just thrifty – or what?

6. Probably Doesn’t Mean A Thing – Michael Waltrip Racing and Michael Waltrip have vehemently denied internet reports that the three car race team is in serious financial trouble and could go away. Said owner Michael Waltrip of the reports, “I fancy myself as being a friend to one of the Web sites that is reporting that. But I have to say that the rumor is probably one of the most ridiculous things I have read on the internet. We are probably on as good of footing financially as anyone in the garage area. We are focused on the future. When you are a new team, a lot of times there is turnover. There is reorganization. That is what is going on at MWR and will continue to happen until we hit our stride. We are not in any peril as being reported. We are very into what we are doing and what we need to do to be successful.”

One Points to Ponder reader, noting that Waltrip has not worn his wedding ring for quite some time, believes that Michael is just too embarrassed to admit that he has fallen on hard economic times and has even had to pawn his ring to help keep his teams afloat. But then again… wouldn’t that just be perpetuating another internet rumor?

7. Free SpeechNASCAR President Mike Helton called a mandatory meeting of Sprint Cup drivers and owners last Friday in what is being termed a “Come to Jesus” meeting. Helton lectured the assembled crowd about the importance of conveying a positive message about the sport to the bill-paying fans. Seems that at the forefront of Helton’s chagrin is the persistent criticism of the car formerly known as the Car of Tomorrow.

Here’s hoping that all drivers and owners present at Helton’s sermon understood that Jesus does not reside at NASCAR’s Daytona Beach office building and…there is still a U.S. Constitution that trumps the fuzzy and difficult to obtain NASCAR Rule Book.

8. The Times…They Are A Changin’ -One driver that seems to side with NASCAR on the constant complaining by some drivers is Richard Childress Racing driver Kevin Harvick. “There are a lot of them that disrespect the sport week in and week out, and they act like a bunch of 18-year old punks, which most of them probably are, and they just need to grow up,” said the 33-year old veteran.

Wait a minute; wasn’t “Happy” Harvick considered one of NASCAR’s “bad actors” a few years ago?

9. Steady Eddy – Richard Childress Racing’s Jeff Burton finished in 15th place on Sunday in the LifeLock 400 at Michigan, and although still winless, is still second in the driver championship point standings, only 32 points behind series leader Kyle Busch and 52 points ahead of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Burton is a true testament to consistency; though having yet to win this season, he is just a whisker from leading the Sprint Cup standings on the strength of not having finished lower than 15th place in any points race in 2008.

10. A Win Is A Win- It has taken 76 races, a change in teams and over two years, but Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has now won again, though his fuel strategy win may not have been as “pretty” as he and his team would have wished. However, Earnhardt, Jr. has run consistently up near the front throughout the 2008 race season, and on Sunday put himself in a position to let circumstances favor him.

But all that aside – for the millions of Earnhardt, Jr. fans – JUNIOR WINS AT MICHIGAN!

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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Kevin in SoCal
06/16/2008 02:23 AM
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He may have won, but its complete and total BS. How many fans said Danica’s win in the IRL was BS because it was fuel mileage? He also passed the pace car TWICE after NASCAR warned him not to, and yet he gets no black flag. CONSPIRACY! Its a bunch of crap and I cry foul.

Nick
06/16/2008 03:53 AM
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Great job with the site. I read it daily. A quick correction: Jeff Burton did win earlier this season at Bristol, leading a 1-2-3 sweep for RCR.

Kyle
06/16/2008 06:16 AM
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Kevin, waahhh wahhh

no sense crying over spilled milk, baby!

“we got the win, we got the trophy, we got the points!” take it!

Douglas
06/16/2008 07:49 AM
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Gee! Suppose JR. was to “win” a race (well, NA$CAR style anyway), and there was no one there to watch!!

Hell, NA$CAR should have/could have penalized Jr. for his pace car antics, there weren’t enough fans at the race to throw even a dozen beer cans on the track! No risk there for sure!

mmack
06/16/2008 09:07 AM
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Kevin in SoCal,

OBVIOUSLY Junior, like Danica, got “The Call”.

:^)

BP
06/16/2008 09:46 AM
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He didn’t pass the pace car AFTER NASCAR warned him. He passed the pace car, turned it off, and coasted. AFter the second time, Eury Jr. got on the radio and told Jr. that the field was whining and to stop passing the pace car. And Jr. didn’t pass the pace car anymore.

He won the race and all of these conspiracy theory crackpots just want something to complain about as usual.

And Burton won at Bristol, so I’m wondering if you were just being sarcastic.

Kevin in SoCal
06/16/2008 11:31 AM
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You guys must not be watching the same race I was, because I specifically saw him pass the pace car at least once more after he was warned, and probably twice more.

-K
06/16/2008 11:53 AM
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Didn’t Jeff Burton win at Bristol ???

1FastSOB
06/16/2008 12:49 PM
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Is a fuel milage win, especially one you have to “stretch the rules” for, really something to brag about. He drives for a team with the biggest budget and the best equipment and that is the best he can do? Really? Seems like that apple has fallen a LONG way away from the tree.

John P.
06/16/2008 12:58 PM
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“Over 73,000 fans for a stand-alone Nationwide race! Would 50,000 additional seats be enough for a Sprint Cup Race?”
I’d say 75-80,000 would be a more prudent addition, considering the fan population within 250 miles of the track!

Douglas
06/16/2008 01:05 PM
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Hey Kevin in SoCal, according to Sirius radio broadcast this morning you are right on! Jr. passed the pace car TWICE after being warned not to do so!

Jr. was “warned”, of course NA$CAR style, after the VERY FIRST TIME HE PASSED THE PACE CAR! Then proceeded to do it over and over!

MïK ("mike") Watson
06/16/2008 01:43 PM
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A lotta boo-hoos here. It is what it is. A ‘fuel mileage’ win counts as much as a lapped-the-field one. and takes as much skill…no matter who wins it. If the only thing you have to gripe about is coasting past the pace car, it’s time to STFU and GBTW.

He won…deal with it!

aj
06/16/2008 01:55 PM
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Please don’t let the rules stand in the way of a JR victory . That reminded me of “ pro wrestling”

curmudgeon
06/16/2008 02:33 PM
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It’s kind of like his pass under the yellow line at Talladega a couple of years back. Why would NASCAR let rules stand in the way of Jr. getting a win.

Kevin in SoCal
06/16/2008 03:54 PM
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Tommy, regarding point #7, as I said in another post on this site, free speech only applies to the government trying to censor you. The first amendment does not apply to a private entity or club where drivers and owners have to pay to belong. Its NASCAR’s world, and if you dont like the rules, and want to badmouth the company about it, they’re perfectly fine in telling you to shut up or go race somewhere else.

Gary
06/16/2008 05:27 PM
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New rules that apply only to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. This list is not all-inclusive and may be amended by NASCAR at their slightest whim.

1. Pit road speed: oh, 100 MPH , give or take.

2. In case of a crash during a race a secondary car may be utilized. Race will be red-flagged while secondary car is prepared. However, this car must start tail end of the
longest line.

3. On second thought, He can re-start in the same position He was in at the time of the crash.

4. An eighth flag, this one green with a white diagonal stripe, will be added and waved at any car coming with 50 feet the 88, either during the race or under caution. Failure to comply will result in a black flag.

5. Green-white-checker format will not be utilized if somehow the 88 is leading the race again at the time of the incident.

6. In case qualifying is rained out drivers will be line up according to the following criteria: 1. Number of championships won by their father in the ‘modern era.’ 2. Owners points.

7. If Earnhardt Jr. runs out of fuel while leading on the final lap the caution will waved, the field frozen and He will be declared the winner if he can complete the remaining mileage on foot.

8. It will be strictly forbidden for anyone to compare Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Danica Patrick in any way.

Larry
06/16/2008 07:07 PM
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I love it!!! All you haters with your oh so pretty panties in a wad…LOL Jr won, and did so in style!! He is still the man, so cry little babies cry…. One more thing, he is special, so why not be treated in a way commensurate with his status. Special rules only for Jr, now that is a great idea! Of course we all know he doesn’t need any to kick your favorites B**T!!

Kevin in SoCal
06/16/2008 10:36 PM
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Wow, Larry, are you able to breathe up there? Your nose is pretty far in. LOL
Cry like a baby? You mean like you and the rest of his fans have done for the last 75 races?
He is special? Uhm, no. He’s a race car driver same as the other 45 or so who show up every week to attempt to race at the Sprint Cup level. This is a competition based on talent and skill, not on popularity.

Steve M.
06/17/2008 03:22 PM
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Gary, that was absolutely hilarious!! Thanks for the laugh this afternoon!!

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